News Release from the Sedalia Symphony Society Board – July 25, 2018

The Sedalia Symphony Society Board is proud to announce the new conductor, Luke Lyons of Springfield, Missouri, for the 84th symphony season.  Lyons was selected after the search committee had intensive interviews with outstanding local and out-of-area candidates.  In the history of the symphony, he will be the fourth person to hold this position.  Mr. Abe Rosenthal helped to organize the symphony with the ladies of the Helen G. Steele Music Club in 1935 and went on to be the conductor for 45 years.  Only Arthur Fiedler of the Boston Pops has been a continual conductor of the same organization for a longer time period.  Mr. Harold J. Johnston followed as the second conductor and Ms. Gwendolyn Kappelman was the third.

Mr. Lyons has completed his masters in orchestral conducting from Missouri State University under the tutelage of Dr. Christopher Kelts.  He is the founder and co-conductor of the MSU Repertory Ensemble and has been guest conductor for the Kansas City Civic Orchestra.  Luke brings a high level of energy and enthusiasm to the position and is ready to join the symphony in bringing more outstanding music to the community.

The first concert of the 2018-19 season will be October 15, 7:30 p.m., at the Heckart Performing Arts Center in Sedalia, Missouri with Cornet Chop Suey as guest artist.  The Messiah is a musical gift to the community December 2, 3 p.m. at Broadway Presbyterian Church.  The Christmas Pops Concert, at the First United Methodist Church Celebration Center, is December 3, 7:30 p.m.  The February 25, 2019 concert will have the MU Singers as the guest artist, and over 100 youth string players  joining with the symphony.  The final concert of the season will be April 15, 2019, with the Harold J. Johnston Scholarship recipients as guest performers.



Performance Events

October 15, 2018 – Cornet Chop Suey  7:30 PM at Heckart Performing Arts Center

February 25, 2019 –The MU Singers   7:30 PM at Heckart Performing Arts Center

April 15, 2019 – Harold J. Johnston Memorial Scholarship Recipients 7:30 PM at Heckart Performing Center

Seasonal Events

December 2, 2018 –  Handel’s Messiah 3:00 PM at Broadway Presbyterian Church, 209 W Broadway

December 3, 2018 –  Christmas POPS Concert 7:30 PM featuring the Smith Cotton Junior High School Sound Effects at the Celebration Center, 1701 West 32nd Street

Click on any event for more information or to order tickets


Purchase your Season Tickets online!

Photos compliments Kevin Walker Photography

We are celebrating our 84th Season and are extremely excited to bring you three delightful concerts to make your toes tap and your soul sing.

  • General Season Ticket – $40
  • Senior Season Ticket – $25
  • Single Ticket for the October Concert ONLY – $25
  • Season tickets include three concerts at the Heckart Performing Arts Center Smith-Cotton High School, 2010 Tiger Pride Blvd.

You are invited to experience musical excellence and join us as we usher in the holiday season with the Community Chorus performance of Handel’s Messiah and our own classic Christmas POPS Concert.

Handel’s Messiah – Free
(The Symphony’s gift to the community.)

Christmas POPS Concert – $10

Children grades K-12 are free to all concerts with paid adult.

Purchase tickets online here.


The Symphony rehearses on Mondays from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, beginning in September through Mid-April. If you are interested in joining the Symphony, contact Luke at LR.Lyons91@gmail.com.

History of the Symphony

More videos available here…

Symphony November 1960 Abe Rosenthal, Harry James
Symphony November 1960 Abe Rosenthal, Harry James

In 1935, during National Music Week, a group of women from the Helen G. Steele Music Club met to discuss the possibility of forming a symphony in Sedalia.  They approached musician Abe Rosenthal and asked if he would be willing to serve as conductor.

“When I first came to town, I wanted it to happen, but I didn’t think it could.  A symphony orchestra in a town of only 20,000 hit so hard by the Depression?  Impossible, I thought – at first that is.”

Symphony Nov 1960
Symphony, November 1960

The group gave its first concert in June 1935 and the first season began in November 1935 with a concert held at Smith Cotton High School Auditorium.  The audience, many outfitted in tuxedos and formal gowns, applauded the performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony in B Minor, a difficult work performed splendidly.

By the time of the second performance in February 1936, the orchestra had “rapidly matured”, according to the Sedalia Democrat.

Abe Rosenthal
Abe Rosenthal

Abe Rosenthal retired as conductor in April 1980, at the age of 81, having served 45 years with the Sedalia Symphony.  Rosenthal had the distinction of having the longest tenure as conductor of any orchestra leader in the United States, except Arthur Fielder of the Boston Pops Orchestra.

The Symphony has always tried to make its programs affordable to most Sedalians.  During the first years, season tickets cost $1.50 and individual performance tickets cost fifty cents.  By 1963, the price of a season ticket had risen to $3.50.  Currently the price of a season ticket is $40, a price which includes three concerts, the first being a performance by an internationally known artist or group with wide popular appeal.

Local newspapers have, over the years, frequently praised the fact that Sedalia was able to sustain a symphony orchestra.  According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, fewer than 5% of American urban areas have symphonies.

Symphony unknown year
Symphony, unknown year

The presence of the symphony makes Sedalia one of a special few cities; that Sedalia is so small makes the continued presence of the symphony even more noteworthy.  The Sedalia Symphony is the second oldest continuous symphony in the state, the first being the St. Louis Symphony.

– excerpted from A Brief History of the Sedalia Symphony by Rhonda Chalfant, April 24, 2000
– photos courtesy of Becky Imhauser.  Text and photos copyrighted.

The Sedalia Symphony Orchestra is always looking for photographs, postcards, performance programs, posters and other memorabilia to post here on the History Section of our website, our FaceBook page and other related media and printed materials.  If you come across such historical materials, the Sedalia Symphony Orchestra would LOVE to hear from you! 

Mission and Funding

In 1935, in the midst of the depression, which affected Sedalia severely, Abe Rosenthal, along with some other music-loving citizens, formed the Sedalia Symphony Society and established a Symphony orchestra, which, is the second oldest in Missouri..

Mission Statement

The mission of the Society shall be to enrich the musical and cultural life of the Sedalia area by producing an annual series of concerts and programs and by presenting outstanding guest artists.  The organization shall have specific goals from time to time adopted by its Board of Directors in order to accomplish its mission.


MAC logoThe Missouri Arts Council awards grants to organizations to stimulate the growth, development, and appreciation of the arts in Missouri. This funding makes possible quality arts programming to communities throughout Missouri. In addition to financial assistance, it provides expertise in community development, fundraising, marketing, grant writing, arts education, artistic disciplines (visual arts, music, literature, theater, dance, festivals, and film/media) and more.